EU countries boycott economic forum over Ruhollah Zam execution
Germany, Italy, France and Austria have withdrawn their attendance at an event (online due to Covid-19) scheduled for today in the Iranian capital. A protest over the death sentence carried out against the dissident journalist. Paris terms it “barbaric and unacceptable”. Tehran summons ambassadors.
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Four European nations have withdrawn participation in a trade forum to be held online due to the new coronavirus pandemic in Tehran to protest against the execution of dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam. The boycott of the event, scheduled for today in the capital, was announced by the ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy and Austria.

A few hours later, the organizers of the economic forum decided to postpone the event to a later date.

Meanwhile, the execution of the dissident journalist continues to fuel a major clash between Europe and the Islamic Republic who accused Ruhollah Zam of allegedly using social media and messaging applications to foment dissent and incite revolt.

The journalist was granted political asylum by France after documenting the 2017 mass protests in his online media. He was captured in unclear circumstances while in Iraq, only to be extradited to the neighbouring country. On 12 December, he was put to death by hanging.

In a statement, the French government defined the death sentence as a “barbaric and unacceptable” act, contrary to the international obligations signed by Iran. Words of reprimand also from the leaders of the European Union, to which Tehran responded by summoning the ambassadors of Paris and Berlin, who has held the presidency of the EU since July 1st.

Along with the boycott of the commercial event, European diplomatic representatives launched the hashtag #nobusinessasusual on social media.

Ruhollah Zam, son of the reformist religious leader Mohammad Ali Zam, was the manager and editor of Amad News, a popular anti-government news site that according to the leaders of the Islamic Republic would have fomented the riots of 2017-18. The network, with over one million followers on Telegram, used to share images and videos of the demonstrations, denying the official version of the demonstrations provided by the authorities.

At the beginning of the year, Zam was convicted of “corruption on Earth”, a translation (or rather interpretation) of the expression “Mofsed-e-filarz”. It is a crime created by Ayatollah Khomeini after the Islamic revolution, and among those punished most severely by the penal code, often used to eliminate opponents by accusing them of malign behaviour condemned by the Koran. International activists and NGOs claim that the dissident journalist is the victim of an “unfair trial” based on confessions “extracted by force”.